The analysis of protein in algal biomass is one of the most critical areas of commercial development of algae characterization for nutritional or other high value applications. A new rapid and accurate method is required that can be widely implemented and that is free from interferences from the complex algal biomass matrix. We developed a simple spectrophotometric method for primary amino acid quantification bulk measurement in an acid hydrolyzed algal biomass preparation, as an alternative to the more labor-intensive amino HPLC acid analysis or less specific nitrogen-to-protein conversion. We have validated an O-phthalaldehyde (OPA)-based derivatization method, showing accurate and linear quantification for standard reference amino acids as well as mixtures, mimicking the amino acid complexity found in algal biomass. The presence of interferences that may be derived from the complex biomass biochemical composition was tested during the method validation phase. We document the application of a novel method of OPA derivatization with 3-mercaptopropionic acid (3MPA) to determine the total amino acid content of harvested algal biomass collected from different, controlled cultivation conditions and demonstrated a within 10% accuracy against a reference measurement of amino acid content in at least 4 species and 10 algal biomass samples, across early, mid, and late-stages of cultivation.